Groundlings Theatre Trust came into being in December 2019 and signed a lease in December to commence on 9 April 2020. What timing! All theatres were closed due to the Covid-19 crisis on 20 March. Without help this historic award winning theatre may not be able to reopen. We desperately need money to keep us ticking over and to give us the opportunity to be able to lift ourselves back up when the opportunity arises.
Groundlings is an award winning theater and drama school based within a beautiful Grade II* listed building (1784) in the Portsea area of Portsmouth known affectonately as 'Old Benny'. Our venue is steeped in history as it housed one of the first free schools in the country and was also one of the earliest co-educational schools in the country providing unprejudiced and secular education to the poor of Portsea. Perhaps most famous as the location where Charles Dickens was nearly born when his mother went into labour while attending a ball in the upstairs assembly rooms and theatre. We want to be able to protect that very special and important history.
Our local community is linked inextricably to hard work, creativity and grit. The council ward where Groundlings Theatre calls home is one of the top 10% most deprived in the UK and opportunities for our community continue to become fewer and fewer. We are well established in providing opportunities to our local community and would like the opportunity to develop this further - impact of previous work includes participants being able to leave government support and return to work, for children with socialisation issues to building and maintain relationships, and helping participants both young and old to improve their well being and mental helath. Our volunteer programme provides social interaction, the opportunity to build new skills or enhance existing abilities that participants can take back to their daily lives.
We want Groundlings Theatre to continue to be a beacon of opportunity and a centre of excellence within Portsmouth. It has an established history of former pupils and colleagues continuing to develop and further their ambitions after their time with the company. We want the opportunity to empower our community so they can seek better, strive for better and be rewarded with excellence.
And lets not forget, we want Groundlings Theatre to continue to be a place of entertainment and pleasure for our community and beyond by providing entertainments ranging from in-house theatrical productions giving our drama students the opportunity to act with professionals, a venue for smalling touring shows and live music, a place for the community to celebrate their own special events, to pub quiz nights and open mic evenings.